Indirect Causes


Indirect causes pertain to families, poor civilian employment and educational opportunities (poor outside options). Ease of manipulation, indoctrination of children, militarization and violence in the society as well as lack of security are some other causes we will explore.

1. Family

In some cases family members can encourage children to join forces due to poverty, or lack of bonds among the members of the family. Controversially,  some children join the forces under the threat of the armed groups to kill their own family members.

 2. Poor outside Options

According to research, the absence of educational or labor opportunities, (or as some scholars call it “poor” outside options) significantly increases the probability of children to be recruited, or simply to volunteer. The majority of children that are involved in military groups come from low socioeconomic families; in other words, poverty makes children consider armed forces as a relatively good alternative since it will at least provide food and shelter.

 3. Ease of Manipulation and Indoctrination

Some studies show that rebel leaders tend to recruit child soldiers because children can be easily manipulated. As a result, children are more willing to carry out most dangerous attacks because of their unawareness of mortality1. Also, according to Goodwin-Gill and Cohn, recruiters may use religion, ethnic divides, and personal child experiences as well as circumstances to manipulate and mislead a child2.

4.Militarization and Violence

 Militarization and persistent violence in the society also have an important role to play in the issue involving child soldiers. Research shows, militarization of a daily life (such as significant increase in the number of armed police or soldiers in the streets, roads, public buildings) gradually creates an acceptance within the society2. The spread of violence, as one of the consequences of militarization, creates conditions under which a child is more eager to volunteer to be a fighter. As shown by Massey2, after experiencing violence (executions, disappearances, killings, rape, torture), many children often develop the desire for revenge. 

 5. Lack of Security

Research shows that unsecured communities and refugee camps increase the opportunities for child recruitment 3,4

Direct Causes


1 Wessells, M. (2005). Child soldiers, peace education, and postconflict reconstruction for peace. Theory into Practice, 44(4), 363-369

2 Massey, Ch. M. (2000). Child soldiers: theory and reality of their existence: the question of international protection available to them in contemporary times. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham

3 Tynes, R. M. (2011). Child soldiers, armed conflicts, and tactical innovations. State University of New York at Albany). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 344

4 Achvarina, Vera and Simon F. Reich (2006). ―No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers. International Security 31(1), 127-164.



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